Meet my new feet!

My new feet arrived this morning, in a large white box via a bemused courier. I don’t think he had ever seen anyone so excited about receiving a pair of crutches before.

These aren’t any crutches, they are far more than that ~ they are smart crutches!

When you order them you have to choose the size best suited for you. To do this you need to know your height ~ for the lower leg length and your forearm length ~ for the cuff size. Then finally you choose the colour you want them in, obviously I chose purple.

Having already watched the videos on how to set them up I ripped open the box and set to it.

They are really very easy to assemble. First you have to adjust the angle for the arms, so that the pressure on your shoulders, arms and wrists is evenly dispersed.

Next, you have to make sure to adjust the length of the arm rest using a wing nut on the side, which you pull in or out to get the right length to suit your arm for optimum comfort.

Finally, you have to make sure that the length is just right. They are very easy to adjust just like normal crutches. Once I had them at a length where my shoulders were relaxed and not pushed up by the crutches I was good to go.

Then ~ freedom to walk without too much pressure through my ankles and weight dispersed evenly through my shoulders, arms and wrists.

All I can say is that these crutches are the bomb, totally awesome and hopefully allow me to walk more and keep that wheelchair folded up in storage for a little longer.

PLUS, with the arms designed as they are, I can still do my photography whilst using them ~ which is a huge bonus.

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I’m off to see my GP later about my depression (review) and ankle pain/swelling, so will be showing her these bad boys while I am there.

Okay, I’m tootling off now to practice with my new feet ~ catch you later.

x~X~x

 

Hair today, gone tomorrow! #SV2 #SexualAssault #ConsentIsEverything #Fundraising #VitalCounselling

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Sadly, two people I care about very much have been sexually assaulted, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. For the purpose of this blog I shall call them “x” and “y”.

On both occasions our local rape crisis centre, known as SV2 ~ Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence; helped them to work through the assault. To face and come to terms with what had happened to them and to decide on how they wished to proceed after informing them of the options available to them.

You can read more about the work SV2 do here.

This specialist counselling service was crucial in helping both x and y to pick themselves up and continue with their lives. More importantly to learn who their true friends were and who to surround themselves with.

For them the best approach was to retreat from large groups and focus on the individual people they could trust and feel safe with.

These specialist counsellors are incredible, the work they do far~reaching and essential to the victims of this type of assault.

Seeing how they helped x and y made me want to do something to help raise funds to pay towards ongoing costs to maintain the service.

Sadly I learned that on 24 July this year SV2 were unable to secure any future long term funding for therapy.

They have a significantly high waiting list and without adequate future funds they were forced to decide how to spend what they had.

The difficult decision was made to close the waiting list meaning they could not accept  referrals for the time being.

Hopefully they will be able to review this decision in a few months time and reopen the waiting list.

I cannot imagine how x and y would have managed without the support and care of SV2, their help was critical in helping them to cope with their assaults.

The trauma caused by these assaults cannot just “go away” and if left unresolved can leave the victim in a very dark place, ruining their lives and relationships with others, living in fear.

Even after undergoing therapy both x and y continue to suffer PTSD and dissociation because of the trauma they experienced. However, at least now they understand these feelings and how to work through each episode with thanks to the therapy provided by  SV2 specialists.

I am deeply upset that SV2 haven’t been supported and given long term funding. Their service deserves to be maintained and funded. It is deeply worrying that so many people are sexual assaulted and therefore requiring this help. I wrote a blog previously about consent which you can read here.

SV2 is a charity, which surprised me as I feel they should be under the umbrella of a mental health services.

In their “about us” section they explain how they are funded…

“SV2 is a charity which is commissioned by NHS England, Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire County Council to provide the County’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) service. This service includes forensic medical examination, crisis worker support, 24/7 Advice Line and support from Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs). We work in partnership with the police, but independently in order to advocate for anyone who accesses our services. 

In addition, SV2 is currently funded by Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner, NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups and Children in Need to provide specialist counselling services for victims and their families – all ages.

SV2 also provides Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner’s emotional and practical support service for victims of less serious sexual offences such as indecent exposure, revenge porn, sexting, etc.

SV2s work is overseen by a Board of Trustees which has responsibility for the ensuring that the Charity delivers its aims of: reducing the impact of rape and sexual abuse on victims (male and female) and their families; encouraging reporting of rape and sexual abuse; supporting victims through the legal process and; reducing the incidence of rape and sexual abuse by raising awareness.”

I want to help raise funds to assist with their ongoing fundraising. I needed to think of something that I could do personally to help. Long walks, climbing challenges, all kinds of physical events are not viable options because of my chronic health issues. So in the end I decided to shave off my hair.

I have shortish hair but a long fringe ~ which I hide behind. I’m not a confident person, although sometimes I may give off that impression. I am exceptionally shy and self-conscious, so by shaving off my hair I am making myself feel exposed and vulnerable, with nothing to hide behind ~ exceptionally visible!

On Wednesday 1 November I shall be shaving all of my hair off, photographs and video will following in a blog afterwards.

This is, I imagine how victims of these crimes often feel, vulnerable, exposed, isolated, watched.

So, if you would like to help me raise funds towards my goal of £500 to help keep this essential service going and hopefully help towards SV2 being able to reopen their waiting list for victims I would be exceedingly grateful.

My fundraising page is on the SV2 website, every penny raised goes directly to them.

If you could donate anything at all it would be hugely appreciated.

I hope against hope that you never have to seek support from a service like this. If you do, can you imagine how awful it would be to be told that the service is not available to you as the referrals have been stopped due to lack of funding?

The link to my fundraising page is below, thank you for reading this blog and any “shares”, “reblogs”, and/or donations are genuinely deeply appreciated.

https://fundraise.charitycheckout.co.uk/svtwo/pf/tanya-mawer

Thank you

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x~X~x

Dare to Dye

What is the first thing many women do when they leave a relationship? For me, and I don’t think I am alone in this, I usually change my look somehow. This usually means changing my hair colour and/or cut.

Today is the day I dare to dye! I am in the process of breaking up with my black dog and putting him in  kennels! So what better way to make myself feel better than to completely change my look

Depression has been too dominant in my life, dragging me under it’s wheels and pummelling me relentlessly. So I am thumbing my nose at him, mentally putting him in his box, chaining him up, submerging him in concrete and building a watch tower on top of him with 24/7 look out on duty to recapture him if he escapes!

I don’t know how you feel about older women colouring their hair with vibrant bright unnatural colour. I have as far back as I can remember coloured my hair and had most colours available and many different styles. These days I tend to keep my hair short so am limited on styling options. That’s why I am such a fan of hair colour, it transforms your instantly, whether good or bad ~ it’s a change.

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It may come as no surprise to many that my favourite colour is purple, next to that it’s blue. My piercing jewellery is blue/purple titanium and so I decided to go purple/turquoise (because I couldn’t find the blue) hair dye.

Here are the colours and bleach I just picked up..

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Fist though we have to bleach it and as my hair is dark it will go yellow/orange first. Once we have the right colour (as in lightest shade of yellow/orange possible) we go for the dye.

Bleach going on..

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Ta da ~ yellow/orange hair..

Colour going on now..

Results..

I LOVE it but it needs a second session of colour to go over the bleached areas again which I’ll do later this week.

Life is so much better with colour in it don’t you think?

So, my motto for now is “fake it ’til you make it”

I will be happy again and with the aid of my therapist, medication, meditation, family & dogs I am sure it won’t take too long.

colour

x~X~x

Reasons To Be Cheerful//A Work In Progress #depression

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Since my last blog post which you can read here, where I opened up about my depression and recent breakdown, I have been exceptionally lucky to access help almost immediately.

The day I acknowledged, with a few heavy hints from Dave and the girls, that my low mood had reached the point where I needed outside help to “fix” myself, I booked myself a doctors appointment and referred myself to Trent PTS for help.

Dave drove me and came into my GP appointment with me because I was so nervous I could barely speak. I am so grateful that he did because once in that doctors office I became beyond overwhelmed by the enormity of how awful I felt and how terrified I was, that I burst into tears. I tried to explain but kept faltering, so Dave stepped in and spoke on my behalf, with the odd sniff, nod and explosion of tears from me, quietly wringing my hands and rocking on my chair! The GP increased my antidepressants and checked I had referred myself for talking therapy. He then discussed my recent alcohol abuse and agreed that I should stay off the sauce and that he wanted me to book a appointment to be re~evaluated by a doctor in 4 weeks time, which is on 30th August.

THEN, only a few days later I received a call from Trent PTS offering me my first appointment with them on the Monday ~ 6 days after referring myself!

I met my therapist and we covered an awful lot of ground in that first appointment. We filled out the timeline from my birth to the present day and worked out which areas of my life had been affected by depression, what were the triggers and how we could best address it. Having had my black dog since my late teens meant we had to walk back in time and discuss the worst episodes, what medications I took and for how long, along with which therapies I had received. Needless to say I went through a fair number of tissues during that appointment.

My major issue is of negative thought relating to my inner critical self and the monologue of chastisements I receive from it through out each and every day. Feeling of not being “enough” and my role as a carer throughout my life, how not always being able to “fix” things distresses me and my “on the spectrum” issues. Finally the more personal issues relating to self~esteem, self~worth and lack of confidence. My sessions of CBT will be to work on all the above and hopefully help me find a way to love myself unconditionally by accepting and “owning” who I am without shame or excuses. She has her work cut out for her ~ but we gelled and I feel more positive now about the future and my ability to learn to cope and live with my depression more successfully.

Before I start on the work of CBT, which starts properly on Monday coming, I have been told to look at my life with positivity ~ to find the “reasons to be cheerful” in everyday life.

When I feel gut wrenchingly sad, when the lump in my throat and stomach feels like it’s killing me, to take a minute, close my eyes, relax and then think, think hard, what have I done or seen that is a reason to be cheerful.

I have also found out that ~ apart from feeling incredibly silly ~ forcing yourself to laugh can help too, you start out feeling a complete tool, forcing out this odd sounding laugh ~ but the more you do it something happens. You start to actually laugh, for real, at yourself, at life, at nothing in particular, but you laugh ~ sometimes I have to say manically, but it helps to release the tension that’s been bottling up and ready to explode.

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So since my last blog post I have been seeking “reasons to be cheerful” and I thought I would share them with you..

  1. My dogs, they provide me with unconditional love, a warm body to cuddle into when I am feel horribly low and a listening ear when I need to offload.
  2. My family, they are giving me unquestioning space when I need it, love unconditionally and laughter ~ they know how to push the laughter button on me and make me realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  3. The discovery of Huel, it is not only nutritionally complete but also vegan and being soy intolerant to find a meal replacement shake that I can tolerate is fantastic. It’s oat based and reminds me of original ready brek in flavour ~ you can buy different flavour boosts but I find I enjoy  it without them. It mixes in the tumbler provided brilliantly with no lumps to gag your way through. I have a shake for breakfast and another for lunch, which helps me conserve energy and focus it on other things. Later when Dave gets home we cook our evening meal together. Today I lived a little on the wild side and had a blueberry muffing with my Huel. IMG_1647
  4. Next reason to be cheerful is my new watch which not only tells the time but tells me the weather, my heart rate, counts my steps and also links to my phone and so vibrates when I have messages. There are other applications too but these are the ones I use ~ and its purple!IMG_1639
  5. I am very slowly losing weight and am in 2 belt loops, 3 at a push ~ and my jeans are becoming looser on me. I’m hueling during the day and eating whatever I want for dinner at night, but think the combination of Huel and being booze free are why the weight is coming off. IMG_1641
  6. Three years ago I found a really comfy pair of shoes in Tesco, I wore them until they fell apart and having been looking out for them ever since, two years passed and no return of my favourite comfy shoe ~ then today they were there! So I plucked the last pair of size 7’s off the rack and am now happily wearing them. My feet are smiling at me and thanking me profusely. IMG_1637
  7. Hubby has just purchase a new car, for his everyday and for the family excursions ~ I am so in love with this vehicle. It is quiet, automatic, huge, and unbelievably comfy. It has air con, working stereo and takes LPG gas as well as petrol. Today, to make me happy Dave took me for a spin in it and said when I feel up to it I can drive it! Now this car doesn’t drive it glides, I spent the entire time grinning until my face ached!
  8. My penultimate reason to be cheerful for today ~ it’s totally unexpected, and still for my life I cannot see what this woman saw. I was in my car the other day with my first born and needed to ask for a barrier to be lifted. The woman in the kiosk just looked at me and pointed at the front of my car and loudly exclaimed “BATMAN”. Baffled I looked at Keisha and she at me, none the wiser ~ so the woman said “your number plate, BATMAN”. Clueless still I mumbled a “yeah” and she lifted the barrier. When we got out of the car both of us looked at my number plate and still don’t see Batman ~ do you? IMG_1636
  9. Apps ~ there are apps for almost anything! I have become reliant on a few which I will share with you.
  • Nomo, for my sobriety ~ my GP wanted me to join AA but Dave helped me persuade him that this app was keeping me on track, I had to hand him my phone to show him the app first!
  • Headspace, my meditation app, which really relaxes me and this is the first time I have been successful in meditating thanks to the soothing tones of the gentleman guiding the meditation sessions. I am currently going through the three basic foundation meditation  packages and have downloaded, aside from the three basic ones, a number of other packages on areas I feel I need to work on, depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, pain management, self~esteem and acceptance. Finally I will tackle the six “pro” meditation packages to finish off.  Hopefully after that I can either continue to use the app or meditate flying solo each day.
  • Lose It, I use this mainly as a food diary and to track my weight and body measurements. I can use the barcode scan facility of the app to upload foods not already in the data base, if that’s unsuccessful I can than manually upload the data. It records my daily nutritional intake as well as protein, fat and carbs.
  • Clue, Being peri~menopausal I am experiencing all kinds of hell from my fluctuating hormones. Hot flushes, irritability etc ~ you get the gist AND crazily irregular periods. This app allows me to record all my periods in detail but more than that I can record my body functions, vitality, activities and medical information too. It also allows you to export the information to your email so you can print it off to show your doctor, should you so desire.
  • VeryFitPro,my new watch a Letscom Activity Tracker with Wrist Based Heart Rate Monitor binds to this app and allows it to track my heart rate, steps, sleep cycles, etc. I can then use it to send data to my email to print off to show my doctor if necessary. I am using it to gradually increase my activity to a point where I can take the dogs for a short walk ~ something I miss very much. The trick is to keep your heart rate within a certain range and successfully maintain a certain level of activity for a period of time without causing post exertional malaise. My starting point is 3,000 steps, which I know for healthy folk is a cinch ~ but for me it’s a stretch. Once I maintain happily 3,000 steps a day I will increase to 3,500 and so on. It’s a very slow and steady exercise but one I am determined to succeed and supported by my occupational therapist.
  • Apple Health, this is already on most folks iphones and all my apps above link to it. This means I have a place where I can catch up on all my apps and see how they dovetail together to give a good overall picture of my health. It also has a page which can be accessed even when your phone is locked where I have my name, age, illnesses, medications, allergies and next of kin listed ~ which gives me peace of mind.

Just in case you are interested in heart rates and beats per minute. I looked up that the average persons resting heart beats between 60~100 beats per minute.

Next I worked out how much the maximum heart rate should be for an average person whilst exercising ~ this is worked out by deducting your age from 220 ~ being 48 mine is a maximum exercise heart beat of 172 beats per minute

Then I calculated the target heart rate whilst exercising should be within the following range;

(220 – age) x 50% which for me is 86

(220 – age) x 70% again for me is 120

My target range is to be within 86 ~ 120 beats per minute whilst exercising, which in my case is just walking.

So finally, I just wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to each an everyone of you for your messages of support. I cannot express strongly enough how much that means to me.

I just want to say I am getting the help I need and am fully supported by my A~team at home. I hope you are too ~ reach out, ask for help, you are not alone.

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x~X~x

What is consent?

“The Rape Delusion: The Voices of the Victims

If there is one thing that tells us something perverse and disturbing about our society it is the fact that we even countenance the notion that a woman might be responsible for being raped.

When we rationalise to some level of normality the rape of women as being, somehow different, that there are grey areas, that ordinary men can spontaneously lose all form of moral consciousness and violate someone sexually in a moment of uncontrolled lust-fuelled madness, then it is an indictment not only about our attitude towards women in society but also a shockingly offensive and naive view of “mainstream” male sexuality. The sight of any woman in supposedly “provocative” circumstances does not have the potential of converting any man into a rapist. Rape has no connection with mutual, caring, sexual relations, however tenuous, it’s about power, control, domination, and a lack of respect for the dignity and rights of another human being. A rapist plans to rape.

The psychological impacts of rape, and society’s attitude towards the crime, create a damaging lifelong legacy for the tens of thousands of women who have to remain silent about their experience, who are isolated from society – all because of the rape “delusion”.
Click here to read the full article on Derby News (opens in new window)
By Russell Pollard, first published 11th August 2015″

This video gives you a clear picture of what consent is by using making a cup of tea for someone as an example. It saddens me so much that this type of video needs to be made in order for consent to be understood. You can read more fully about sexual consent here.

In case you haven’t time to look at the website its basic message is as follows…

“These are the words of real people commenting on the Thames Valley Police Facebook page in 2015. It is wrong to place any responsibility on the victim. Help prevent rape by speaking out and challenging views you know to be wrong.

Sex without consent is rape

Rape is a crime. Rape occurs when a person penetrates another person’s mouth, anus or vagina with their penis without their consent. It happens to men and women. If someone initially agrees to have sex, but later withdraws their consent and the other person continues anyway, that person will have committed rape. Being drunk or on drugs is not a defence.

If you are accused of rape your future will change forever. You will be arrested and questioned by the police. Your belongings will be seized and your DNA taken, analysed and added to a database. If charged with rape you will appear at Crown Court for trial. If you are convicted of rape you could be sent to prison. The maximum sentence is life imprisonment. You would be ordered to sign the sexual offenders register.

After being convicted it may be harder to get a job or a place at university. You may not be able to travel to some countries. You may also damage or even lose relationships with friends and family.”

#Consentiseverything

Sadly, two people I care about very much have been raped over the past few years, something I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  The police were informed, they were incredibly kind, patient and caring. On both occasions the first thing they said was to access help via the local SV2.

SV2 ~ Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence; were amazing. They helped them to work through the assault, learn to face and come to terms with what had happened to them. Finally to decide whether they wished to press charges or not, or whether, for the time being, to leave it in order to maintain mental health.

I know they both considered pressing charges but felt that they did not want to pursue it at that time. The mental health of the victim is paramount and to go to court and re~live the experience is incredibly traumatising and takes and enormous amount of guts and strength to do. However, a decision not to pursue now does not rule out the possibility of pursuing it in the future.

This specialist counselling helped both these people to pick themselves up and face what had happened to them. Also how to recognise who their true friends were, the people to surround themselves with. For them it was to retreat from large groups and focus on people they could trust and feel safe with.

I cannot underline strongly enough the vital importance of charities such as these who help victims address the trauma of the attacks and learn how to move forward to reclaim control over their lives.

Their service in their own words is…

“SV2 will support you regardless of when your experience of sexual abuse or violence occurred. We support all genders from any age and offer counselling to anyone aged 14+.

You do not have to report the abuse to the police to get support from SV2. However, if you do want to report we can support you through the reporting process, during the forensic examination if one is needed, through the investigation and when you are at court.

SV2 will help you access other services such as sexual health if you need to and we can provide specialist counselling.

SV2 also works with young people to raise their understanding of what “consent” means.
We do not work with perpetrators of any gender”

Very sadly, I have noticed that our SV2 has had to closed its books to referrals as they have not been able to secure enough funding to take them. Instead they are looking at helping those already on the very long waiting list, whilst searching for more funding so that they can then re~open their books to referrals once more.

Again in their own words they state…

“Unfortunately as SV2 has not been able to secure future long~term funding for therapy and as the waiting list is already significantly high, SV2 has reluctantly taken the very difficult decision to close the waiting list and will not accept any more referrals into the therapy service.

SV2 acknowledges this is a very difficult decision for the agency and for clients and is hoping to review this in a few month’s time.”

I find it appalling that such services have to constantly seek funding to continue their vital work. I feel exceptionally strongly about this because I have seen first hand on two separate occasions how incredible the work they do is. How they help give the victim their life back and coping mechanisms for when the post traumatic stress kicks in.

Another unpleasant issue victims have to face is their physical health, being raped usually doesn’t involve “safe sex” and therefore leaves the victim open to potentially contracting sexually transmitted diseases. So here is a basic checklist of what action you should take if you are victim of a sexual assault…

  • Make sure you are safe, go to a good friend of family members house.
  • Try to tell someone you trust what has happened to you, remember it is not your fault no matter what your abuser has said to you.
  • Resist the urge to scrub yourself clean in a bath or shower, you may have vital forensic evidence on your body which the police could use in a case against your abuser.
  • Ask your friend/family member to go with you to either A&E or the Police (the police have a forensic doctor if you prefer going to them) ~ as soon as you can to be checked over and for them to collect forensic evidence and to test you for any sexually transmitted diseases and to treat you for any injuries.
  • If you go to the Police they will give you your options of how you could proceed, they also give you a crime incident number and their telephone numbers should you want to talk to them at any time. Most areas have local rape crisis centres and the police will give you their details and advice you to contact them. This is because the specialist counsellors at these centres  can help you through the whole process and support you if you wish to press charges. Even if you decide not to the counsellors work through the assault and help you address what has happened to you and how you go forward from that.
  • REMEMBER; you don’t have to go to a police station.  But if you do they will ask for you to see their  doctor who will take swabs and samples in their examination suite (you can similarly have these tests at your local A&E if you ask them for them and tell them why or your local rape crisis centre if you have one). These samples/swabs can be stored so that if you aren’t ready to press charges after your assault, you still have the option to go down that route in the future, should you wish to. These swabs and samples cannot be used without your express permission either. So don’t be afraid of having them taken, they are there for you, should you need to use them.
  • If you don’t want to go to the Police you can go to any clinic or hospital to receive treatment for any injuries and to obtain emergency contraception and be checked for any sexually transmitted diseases. These are not forensic tests and I would always urge you to have the contraception and sexually transmitted disease tests done as soon as possible, in order to protect yourself as much as possible.  Doctors and nurses cannot contact the police if you go to see them, your treatment is confidential and only you can report the matter to the police.
  • Just a heads up if you ever need to know this for either yourself or someone you care about. We have been informed that medical evidence should ideally be collected within 72 hours of the attack, after that any medical evidence will be lost. They may also ask to keep your clothes as evidence so ~  don’t worry if you haven’t got any spare clothes to change into because the police will usually have a spare set of clothes.

If you do report to the police these are examples of questions you may be asked ~ it will be distressing for you to recant your experience but it will help them to work for you in catching your attacker;

  • When did it happen, give as accurate timings as you can
  • Where did it happen, if you don’t know the area try to describe it as accurately as possible.
  • What happened prior to the attack, give a timeline of the events leading up to when it happened, where you were, who you were with, what you were doing and so on.
  • Try to remember any conversations you had which may be relevant to the attack.
  • Try to remember how you resisted the attack, did you fight back?
  • Can you remember what your attacker looked like ~ was it someone you know?
  • Did they threaten you in any way.
  • Did they have weapons or threaten to use weapons.
  • Did you manage to inflict any injuries to the attacker.
  • Did you receive any injuries from the attack.

If you are EVER attacked and sexually assaulted but are afraid to contact anyone or seek help then please consider ringing either of these numbers and talk to them about what has happened to you. They may help you work out what action you want to take and who you want to talk to. Remember, you should not feel ashamed or responsible for what happened. It is highly likely you will experience some or all of the following emotions, fear, anger, shame, guilt, anxiety ~ it is very common to have post traumatic stress after this assault and that is why it is vital you seek help and support to help you through such a distressing and frightening experience.

The numbers are:

  1. National Rape Crisis helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm to 2.30pm and 7pm to 9.30pm every day of the year)
  2. Victim Supportline on 0808 16 89 111

Some other useful numbers are:

  1. Derbyshire Domestic Abuse Support Line
    08000 198 668 (24/7)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derbyshire
    http://www.saferderbyshire.gov.uk/domestic-abuse
  2. Derby City Domestic Violence Service – run by Refuge
    0800 085 3481 (8am-8pm Mon-Sun)
    Support and information line for anyone experiencing domestic abuse in Derby City
    http://www.refuge.org.uk
  3. Derbyshire Recovery Partnership
    01246 206514
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use Derbyshire
    http://www.saferderbyshire.gov.uk/treatment-services
  4. Derby Drug and Alcohol Services
    0300 790 0265
    Information, advice and support for those affected by drug and alcohol use in Derby City
    http://www.derbysubstancemisuseservices.org.uk
  5. Samaritans
    116 123 (Free Support Line UK)
    Samaritans of Derby and District – 01332 364444
    Support for anyone feeling emotional distress
  6. Derbyshire Friend
    LGBT Helpline 01332 207704
    http://www.derbyshirelgbt.org.uk
  7. Derbyshire Sexual Health Services
    0800 328 3383
    http://www.yoursexualhealthmatters.org.uk
  8. Derbyshire Police:
    101 or 999 in an emergency
    http://www.derbyshire.police.uk
  9. Derbyshire CORE
    0300 303 1973
    Support for victims of crime in Derbyshire
    http://www.core-derbyshire.com
  10. Mind:
    Support for mental health issues
    http://www.mind.org.uk
  11. Childline:
    0800 1111 (free phone)
    Free 24 hour helpline for any young person in trouble or danger and also provides on-line support
  12. NSPCC Helpline:
    0800 800 500 (free phone)
    Advice and information for children or anyone concerned about a child
    http://www.nspcc.org.uk

Supporting someone close to you who has been through sexual assault is heartbreaking, you want to protect that person at all costs. However, that’s not the solution, in order to be able to live with what has happened they need to face it, address it, talk about it and learn how to deal with it and be able to go forward with their lives. The two people I know who have gone through this terrifying ordeal are in my opinion incredible individuals, who strive every day not to let it hold them back but yet still even to this day have episodes of PTSD and anxiety because of it.

However, through the help of the specialist counsellors at SV2 they understand that it was not their fault, that they were victims of attacks, they did not consent to having sex and it was forced upon them. They have worked through every aspect of what has happened and been supported as they worked through the trauma that it has caused them. It does leave you scarred and wary in the future of who you surround yourself with. You are more cautious and frightened than others would be. BUT and this is a big but, SV2 therapists have helped them leave the four walls of their safe haven which is their home and re~enter society and start rebuilding their lives.

These specialist counsellors are incredible, the work they do is far~reaching and essential to the victims of this type of assault.

Seeing the work they do second~hand has made me decide that it’s time I did something to give them something back for the help they offer and continue to offer to victims.

As I stated earlier, SV2 need funding urgently in order to continue providing their services to victims. This made me think about what could I do to help and led me to decide on a head shave in return for donations.

I will be collecting donations from now, this very minute and hopefully reach my target before I shave off all my hair on 1st November. Not just to a number one, oh no, but completely shiny headed bald.

If you feel strongly about consent, rape and other types of sexual assault, I beg you to please support me in raising funds to help this valuable service to continue helping other victims.

It costs £42 to pay for just one counselling session, whatever I can raise will help make a difference for someone who needs this specialist help.

You can leave a donation via my online fundraising page and every penny will go to SV2. The link to donate is below and will take you to my fundraising page on the SV2 website:~

Hair today, gone tomorrow ~ head shave to raise funds for SV2

A full video of the head shave will be uploaded to my YouTube channel and shared in a blog afterwards.

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Thank you

x~X~x

Broken as fuck! #depression

Today something snapped, gave way, broke down and obliterated the me I want to be. I feel overwhelming despair, it is almost suffocating, I can feel it in the base of my throat and in the pit of my stomach. It’s like a wad of heavy oppressive darkness inside of me.

I don’t want to see anyone, speak to anyone, go anywhere, do anything. I want to curl up in a ball and simply not exist.

Depression is a cruel monster, it lives inside me and no matter how hard I try eventually he breaks free and runs amok within my brain, leveling my wall to keep him contained and smashing everything good inside me. It takes so much time and effort to regain control and wall him back up.

He makes me hate myself ~ I look in the mirror and want to vomit at what I see looking back at me. I hate who I am, what I am. I feel useless, worthless, boring and a waste of life.

This blog is my space to talk, to vent, to share, to hope that somehow, somewhere, someone is reading this and can relate, can understand and has empathy. To know that someone else is riding this awful tsunami of emotions helps somehow. I wish you weren’t going through this too ~ but know that you are not alone, I am not alone.

I love my family so very much and hate that no matter what they say or do, they cannot help me. The chemicals in my brain are misfiring spectacularly ~ I am hopeful that my GP will see fit to increase my Amitriptyline for me because it is the only anti~depressant, and believe me I have tried them all, that works effectively for me. I know that the therapy, when it comes through, will help too.

I forced myself out today, to Halfords to pick up L plates for youngest child. I stood there, in the shop, sobbing, unable to stop unable to control myself and hating myself for it. I really hate others to see me cry it makes me feel even worse than I do already.

I cried in the car driving to pick up second born and her housemate. Thankfully they understand and just let me get on with it. It’s awful if I am crying in a public place and someone asks if I am alright ~ not words come out, just spluttering noises as my eyes stream and my nose runs inelegantly. My face becoming increasingly red and blotchy, it just adds insult to injury. I apologise to those caring strangers for my shaking head and swift exit. I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just I can’t talk to you, I can’t explain because I have no control over when the tears will come. They start to leak without any warning and for no apparent reason ~ no essential trigger.

I know, because of living with depression for so long, what to do. I have made that gp appointment and referred myself for therapy. I have to wait it out, to ride the wave, to weather the storm ~ so between now and then I am broken. I will do what I can to plaster the cracks in the meantime. If however, you know me and I appear rude, distant or show inappropriate behaviour I apologise in advance.

Also, you may see me, I may laugh, smile, joke with you ~ then leave you and sob violently in the toilet until I can remake the mask and venture out again. People with depression are very good at putting on an act, but it comes at a terrible cost. When the act is switched off the wave of emotions that you have to surf come bigger, harder, faster.

If you are like me, suffering right now then hold on for dear life ~ access whatever support you can and ask for help. Take that help and grasp onto it with both hands. Let others come to your aid ~ it’s not a weakness, you have shown great strength by reaching out.

Mental health helplines

Whether you’re concerned about yourself or a loved one, these helplines can offer expert advice.
Anxiety UK
Charity providing support if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)
Website: www.anxietyuk.org.uk
Bipolar UK
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Website: www.bipolaruk.org.uk
CALM
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Website: www.thecalmzone.net
Depression Alliance
Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
Website: www.depressionalliance.org
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Website: www.menshealthforum.org.uk
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk
Mind
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Website: www.mind.org.uk
No Panic
Voluntary charity offering support for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Website: www.nopanic.org.uk
OCD Action
Support for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)
Website: www.ocdaction.org.uk
OCD UK
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Website: www.ocduk.org
PAPYRUS
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
Website: www.papyrus-uk.org
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Website: www.rethink.org
Samaritans
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Website: www.samaritans.org.uk
Sane
Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6-11pm)
SANEmail email: sanemail@org.uk
Website: www.sane.org.uk
YoungMinds
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Website: www.youngminds.org.uk

I hope to be in a happier, healthier place in the future ~ til then, please bear with me.

Much love to you all

x~X~x

 

 

Regrets, I have a few.

“Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption”

So I read this blog which compiled a list of the top 37 things you may regret when you are older. Which got me thinking ~ now I’m reaching 50 are any of these regrets relatable to my life. Also, do I have different regrets not in this list? I decided to go through it and see whether it triggered any regret or not, and think if I have other regrets instead.

1. Not traveling when you had the chance.

Thankfully throughout my childhood my parents enjoyed taking us away on holidays abroad and we saw sights that still are crystal clear in my memory. We visited Rome and all of the sights which was amazing. Pompeii, Paris ~ including a trip up the Eiffel Tower, Pisa, Malta and many holidays in Spain and the South of France.

Mum being a school teacher often encouraged us to make scrap books as we travelled and I have a beautiful charm bracelet with charms from all the places we visited. I also clearly remember mum telling us to look around us as dad drove, to note how different the houses and villages were from our village back in Lincolnshire. So as dutiful children we all looked around us at the gorgeous quaint houses and the beautiful scenery ~ as we did a man opened his shutters, stark bollock naked with all his genitalia framed really quite remarkably by the shutters and morning sun. Fascinated our heads turned to watch as we drove past and out of that village. Mum didn’t remind us to absorb and remember the sights again after that.

Once married we visited different Greek Islands, Portugal, New York, Nashville, Kentucky and the fabulous Jack Daniels Distillery. Getting the VIP tour of Graceland in Memphis and staying in Heartbreak Hotel. Plus visits to Chamonix and surrounding areas via Switzerland, as my sister lives there.

I would support and encourage my daughters to travel as and when they can too. Live life minute by minute, consider every opportunity and take everything in that they can on the way.

2. Not learning another language.

This one I don’t really get. I took Latin and French at school and managed to gain the much admired unclassified grade at the end of three years! I truly believe that some people’s brains just aren’t wired to learn languages. I honestly have tried and find speaking English a challenge most days ~ let alone another language. My brother on the other hand was able to learn many languages and seemed a natural at being able to take on any given language and master it. My sister speaks fluent French as she lives in France and teaches in a school in Geneva. I think I missed out on the language gene in my family and have to rely on charades when abroad or using one of those handy little phrase books with the phonetic pronunciation for me to mangle.

My daughters aren’t great with languages either ~ however if your job involves overseas travel and speaking another language ~ and you can’t, despite trying ~ surely if you are good at your job a interpreter will be provided for you?

3. Staying in a bad relationship.

Thankfully I have not been in that situation, I haven’t been in many relationships ~ I can count them on one hand. The relationships I ended or had ended by the other party were never really acrimonious as they were in my teens and part of growing up. As I entered my twenties I started my relationship with Dave and never looked back.

However, the girls have been unfortunate enough to have experienced bad relationships and they have been grounds for a steep learning curve for them. Hopefully they now can see the warnings signs in potential bad partner choices before it’s too late and recognise the ones who are a good bet.

I would support and help anyone who is unfortunate enough to find themselves in a bad relationship. Yet also know, that you can’t help someone until they are ready to accept the help, so sometimes you have to just be there and bite your tongue until that time arrives.

4. Forgoing sunscreen.

“Wrinkles, moles, and skin cancer can largely be avoided if you protect yourself.” Hands up back in the day I used to sunbathe using Brylcreem, because it smelt nice and was moisturising. My other choice was the dreadful very low factor Hawaiian Tropic Oil, which whenever I smell it on others immediately makes me think of summer and beaches.

Now, being a mother, I am far more sensible and always lathered the girls up in high factor sun~cream, topping it up regularly. You could spot my children in the pool because they were the ones leaving an oil slick in their wake in the water! As adults now they know the importance of sun~cream and regularly checking for any moles or changes to existing moles.

5. Missing the chance to see your favorite musicians.

I never really bothered about going to see bands live. I remember seeing Prince on his Purple Rain tour and he was A~M~A~Z~I~N~G. I’ve seen Kylie on her Showgirl Tour as it was a birthday present for my eldest at the time. Other bands were Stereophonics and Deep Purple. BUT the BEST concerts I have had the pleasure to attend were both presents from Dave and were to see Tom Jones and Barry Manilow ~ seriously they were both awesome gigs and I had an amazing time. Dave did too, although he may not admit it. So I have no regrets on that front. Being of a certain age I’m perfectly happy sitting in comfort and enjoying the music via spotify instead.

I think bands are more accessible these days and the girls have seen a fair few at Rock City in Nottingham and also at Festivals.

6. Being scared to do things.

“Looking back you’ll think, What was I so afraid of, comfort zone?”  I can’t do Karaoke because of my fear of singing in public, I am tone deaf and literally just squark horrendously. I make do singing in my car instead. I suppose anything that involves getting up in front of other people and having all eyes on me is my biggest fear and avoided at all costs. I never worked behind a bar because I felt trapped but loved waitressing oddly.

Nursing was scary initially, having someone totally rely on you to care for them. However the fear turned into fascination and a desire to learn resulting in my qualification at the end of 3 and a half years. I wish I had taken the steps to specialise as I always wanted to be a stoma nurse having cared for my grandmother and her stoma in my teens until her death. So that is a definite high ranking regret for me.

I would encourage my girls to take chances and try out new things and go for their dreams, no matter how distant they may seem.  Nothing is impossible if you want it enough. My motto is “Don’t look back and think what if?”

7. Failing to make physical fitness a priority.

In my youth I was very fit, I attended ballet classes, swam, participated in synchronised swimming, trampolining, tennis, badminton and horse riding. I continued to be physically fit until about 7 years ago.

As an adult and mother I continued to play tennis in a squad, plus walked miles every day and loved to swim. I encouraged my daughters to do the same too. However, chronic illness struck which took away my ability to exercise and now I am on a mission to gradually improve my fitness if that is possible without causing negative backlash to my health.

Currently I am not able to walk further than the end of my drive or very short walk from car to restaurant. My plan is to walk around my garden, then down the road and build up very slowly bit by bit.

Health and fitness is massively important and the girls face their own issues and challenges but despite that they continue to try and improve their situation continually. Tara has taken to pole dancing to try and strengthen her core ~ it is very intermittent due to health issues though.

If you are fit and healthy do all you can to maintain it. Sadly we aren’t fortunate enough to be in control of our fitness but you may be.

8. Letting yourself be defined by gender roles.

“Few things are as sad as an old person saying, “Well, it just wasn’t done back then.”” I have to admit to falling prey to this, having been sent to a really old fashioned all girls boarding school. My parents had set gender roles within the family setting, except mum didn’t cook, she alleged she could burn water. Now I am older I am giving zero fucks and do what I want.

My daughters are raised to do whatever they wish and are not defined by gender and traditional roles at all. I think the younger generation are far more inclusive and understanding of different genders identities and sexuality which is awesome.

9. Not quitting a terrible job.

Nope, I’ve not fallen into this category. I have had many jobs and never stayed if it didn’t suit me. So can confidently say this does not relate to me.

My girls have had jobs which we have advised them to leave even though they were prepared to stick it out. If you aren’t being appreciated in the workplace or are being taken advantage of and the situation can’t be resolved then you need to walk.

10. Not trying harder in school.

I can see the reasoning in this yet for us as a family it is not necessarily true. I pissed about in school, was expelled from my all girls boarding school and did nothing at all in the two years I was at the mixed grammar school, resulting in no qualifications. I then went to night school and gained a bucketful of O’levels and qualifications in typing. Worked for almost 4 years for a publishing company then went on to train as a registered general nurse. After nursing I worked for Dave in his pest control business running the office and now work from home for him from time to time. So my lack of education hasn’t been an issue for me personally.

My daughters missed education entirely due to severe chronic illness and that hasn’t hindered them in anyway whatsoever either. First born is now in Uni after completing a foundation year, second born is a fully fledged piercer, ready to set up her own business and very artistic so may also pursue art therapist qualification in the future and finally my baby girl is doing a fabulous course in beauty, preparing her to set up her own business.

If you are tenacious and personable you can turn your hand to almost anything. However i recognise qualifications are necessary for careers as doctors and such like but otherwise follow your bliss.

11. Not realizing how beautiful you were.

“Too many of us spend our youth unhappy with the way we look, but the reality is, that’s when we’re our most beautiful.”  GUILTY ~ I was always feeling too fat, too tall, too masculine, too ugly. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to revel in the me that I was and wear whatever I wanted to wear. Now I have a weight issue due to medications for my illnesses and look back thinking why the fuck didn’t I enjoy that time in my life when I could have worn anything and fitted into it.

I try and tell my daughters to own their bodies, to love them, to nurture them and to enjoy the body they have. Nobody is perfect, no~one is 100% satisfied with their body ~ just be happy with the one you have. Don’t let others define you, don’t be taken in by models and media images of what women should look like. More still needs to be done especially for the younger generation to tell them that you can be any size and any shape, so long as you look after your health then go for it. Beauty is the person inside not the body you wear, walk with confidence. Confidence in self and a good nature equals beauty in my book.

12. Being afraid to say “I love you.”

“When you’re old, you won’t care if your love wasn’t returned — only that you made it known how you felt.” Hand on heart I never held back, if I loved someone the person I loved knew it. I say it with abandon ~ I encourage my girls to do so too.

You have only one life, love fiercely and when it’s not reciprocated move on to find someone who will love you back.

13. Not listening to your parents’ advice.

Not quite sure what I think about this one ~ sometimes my parents advice was just wrong ~ but that’s not their fault, they honestly believed in the advice they gave. However, they did sometimes surprise me and give good sound advice. Sometimes I listened and sometimes I didn’t.

I believe sometimes you have to learn by your mistakes and if you took all the good advice you may not have made the ones that taught you the most. Plus my parents were a little off the wall, I mean they had imaginary friends and liked to party hard, so sometimes the advice was alcohol fuelled and possibly not the soundest.

I give my girls advice, I tell them to listen, digest and only take it if they believe it to be true for them. If they disagree they then formulate their own opinion of what to do, whether right or wrong. It’s hard for me, being a control freak, when they don’t listen to my advice and go forward to do something entirely differently. I know I have to hold back more and not go on and on to do what I say (not easy) so that they can learn the lessons they need themselves.

Actually thinking about it, they are all pretty wise for their years though and sometimes I actually take advice from them!

14. Spending your youth self-absorbed.

I think we would all be lying if we said we weren’t a little self absorbed as teens. Lets face it we had to contend with changing bodies, body hair, body odours and raging hormones ~ it’s part of coming of age and I wouldn’t change that one bit. I remember lying in my bedroom with sad records playing sobbing because things weren’t going my way.

HOWEVER, if by self absorbed you mean horribly vain, looking in every mirror and shop window you pass. With everything is all about you with no room for anyone else, then yes ~ give that kid a kick up the arse and a reality check.

15. Caring too much about what other people think.

“In 20 years you won’t give a darn about any of those people you once worried so much about.” This is so so true! I worried myself rigid about what others thought of me, how they perceived what I did or said. To be honest they probably didn’t give a rats arse what I was up to and most likely it was all a fabrication of my mind. With every passing year I give fewer fucks, I share everything publically in my blog ~ I have little shame. I wish I had been like this when I was younger, it would have saved my an awful lot of angst and heartache.

My daughters are learning to not care as much but it is so very hard, it’s only natural to want to be liked and approved of.  I think it’s just one of those things that come with age sadly, the closer you get to old age the more you want to live in the now to hell what other folk think.

16. Supporting others’ dreams over your own.

“Supporting others is a beautiful thing, but not when it means you never get to shine.” My girls are incredibly supportive of others and at times I have to pull them up and say hang on ~ what about you? The me of the past was terrible for doing anything I could to support others to the detriment of myself.

Again I think it’s passing of time, age and wisdom that brings the knowledge and awareness of when you need to step back and focus on yourself. As parents I feel it’s our duty to ensure our girls follow their dreams and support them fully on their journey towards it and keep it focused on their minds if they get waylaid by others.

17. Not moving on fast enough.

“Old people look back at the long periods spent picking themselves off the ground as nothing but wasted time.” I agree and disagree with this ~ sometimes in times of grief and loss you can’t rush the process in order to address how it has affected you and the change it brings. It has taken me years to come to terms with mums death and even now I have moments where I wobble.

If it’s not related to grief but something you have not succeeded in, be it a project, work or relationship then yes, give yourself a time limit to wallow then pick yourself up and move on.

18. Holding grudges, especially with those you love.

I don’t hold grudges. I get mad, I rant and rave, I moan for a while and then it’s done and over. If someone does or says something unforgivable without remorse then after much chuntering I then cut them out of my life and move on. Anger just makes you bitter and that can be really unattractive.

If you love someone and they do something then you talk about it and forgive each other and move on. I’ve known my husband for almost all my life ~ we have fought, bickered, nearly split up and had massive differences of opinion at times. This didn’t mean we held grudges, we wouldn’t still be together if we did. If you value and love someone you can always compromise or make peace with them.

Grudges are  just a waste of energy and emotion. “Old people don’t take sh*t from anyone. Neither should you.” I couldn’t agree more!

20. Not volunteering enough.

Volunteering can be in many different forms, from making food for the homeless to going abroad and giving your time to helping others. Do what you can within your capabilities would be my advice.

My girls are fabulous and know this ~ my eldest volunteers for the Red Cross and is undergoing training to help refugees fill in forms and applications necessary for them to access support and help. Prior to that she worked in a charity shop as a volunteer. My other two do smaller things as they have chronic health issues which affect their physical capabilities. Basically ~ any random act of kindness to help others is great in my book and if you have the ability to do more then all power to you.

21. Neglecting your teeth.

I have never neglected my teeth ~ always having regular dental checks and follow good oral hygiene. Especially having TMJ and needing to wear a mouth guard at night made me very conscious of my teeth and not wanting to grind them down. Yet I have managed to give myself receding gums due to brushing too hard during pregnancy ~ no one told me this was a risk and to get an electric toothbrush and apply no pressure. Saying that ~ my last dental examination proved me to have good strong teeth despite my grinding, clenching and receding gums.

I remember vividly dentists coming into my primary school with those tablets that stain your teeth to show you where the dirt was and then how to clean your teeth to effectively remove it ~ that has stuck with me all these years and hope it is something that still goes on in schools today.

22. Missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.

I never knew my maternal granddad as he died when my mum was 15. My maternal grandmother lived with us and so I knew an awful lot about her and had many lively conversations learning about her life and family. Sadly there are no living relatives left on mums side. I knew my paternal grandparents as I often stayed with them for weekends during term time when at boarding school as they lived nearby. So am happy that where I could I had the opportunity to talk to them and learn from them.

My daughter had a very close and special relationship with my parents and their grandad on their dads side, unfortunately Daves mum died before we were married so the girls had no opportunity to speak to her. Mum told the girls many stories and Dad regaled them with stories of his life and upbringing. Daves dad also has a close bond with the girls and has told them about his farming days.

I hope that my grandchildren, should I be fortunate enough to have any, will be as close as I was with my grandparents and the girls are with theirs. That they are inquisitive and questioning so that I can regale them with all the stories I have been told by my own grandparents and pass it down to them, along with the story of my life with my family too.

23. Working too much.

In the past I worked long hours and lots of overtime. In the early years it was necessary in order to become financially able to purchase a home, car and pay the bills. Now we are older we are actively trying to find a good work, life balance and hope to be able to reduce the workload with the passing years.

Nothing is worth working all the time ~ life needs to be lived and enjoyed.

24. Not learning how to cook one awesome meal.

This made me chuckle ~ as a rule my mum really couldn’t cook but had mastered a mean lasagne, creme brulee and was a great baker making some mouthwatering cakes. I believe had she wanted to she could have done more but dad is a great cook so he picked up the slack and made the main courses and mum made the puds. The perfect compromise.

Within our marriage I think both myself and Dave are equally matched in the kitchen. We each have our specialities. The girls were taught to cook from early teens and now all three are pretty good in the kitchen, although not so great with the washing up!

25. Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.

I think having worked from early teens in nursing homes and laying out my first ever dead body at the tender age of 14 that I appreciated the importance of savouring the moment. During my teens and later my nursing years I spent many hours talking to the elderly and learning about their lives and that really fascinated me and had a huge impact. I have always, I think, appreciated the moment. Grief, loss and changes in circumstance can be a massive eye opener and make you realise how lucky you really are in the grand scheme of things. Stop, breathe, take a moment, appreciate and move on richer for it.

26. Failing to finish what you start.

Mostly I finish what I start although am also guilty for not finishing things. Usually because life and circumstances get in the way. My big dream of being a nurse was halted when my grandma became sick, I gave up my place and nursed her until her death then signed up for a course which second time around I completed.

Sometimes projects aren’t meant to be finish, sometimes by failing to complete them you take away a lesson that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.

I think I would change this to don’t walk away from something you strongly desire to do, in that case keep trying. Maybe initially the time won’t be right, like nursing for me, but if you keep the desire to do it fresh then reapply again and again until the time is right and you can see it through.

27. Never mastering one awesome party trick.

Hmm ~ this could be tricky one ~ I had a trick that when off my tits I could do a full choreographed routine to “Young Guns” by Wham ~ however when sober had no recollection of what I had done or what the routine was. I could put my legs behind my head too and I can speak incredibly fast. Dave had a party trick of putting his fist in his mouth and putting his legs around his head and walking on his hands. He could also blow a marigold glove or condom up over his head by using breath from just his nostrils ~ not big, not clever but funny at the time.

If my daughters have a party trick then they have kept it a secret from me ~ new challenge to try and find out *cackles evilly”

28. Letting yourself be defined by cultural expectations.

Oh boy, I think we can all be guilty of this to some extent but generally believe when you are young you do allow yourself to be defined in this way as you are guided by your parents, who of course in your youth you trust implicitly. As you age you learn that that is not necessarily something you have to do.

Two of my daughters have had dreadlocks and many people were supportive of them but some were abusive and said that it wasn’t culturally correct and that it was insulting to cultures who wear dreads and that white girls shouldn’t be doing it. Thankfully the girls stuck two fingers up at those who expressed those opinions as funnily enough they weren’t from the cultures they were speaking about.

We are a family that endorses self~expression whatever form that may take, whether behavioural, sexual, gender identity or outward appearance. We support coloured hair, no hair, piercings, tattoos, any gender or sexuality ~ we are all unique and picking out what we like from other cultures can be enriching. Whatever floats your boat is fine by me so long as you are a decent human being.

29. Refusing to let friendships run their course.

Friendships come and friendships go. I have had some fabulous very short lived friendships that came with a rollercoaster of fun times and memories before fizzling out and dying completely. Some friendships are reignited and others lost forever. Over the past few years I’ve separated from some very old good friends because we simply grew apart and our lives took different directions.

It’s no~ones fault, it’s just life. It’s sad, you grieve it for a while and then let it go without any further thought except from a smile as you remember something that you had experienced together in the past and leave it at that.

It is crazy but the friendships that have gone are ones I thought would survive the test of time ~ just goes to show, you can never take anything as a given.

30. Not playing with your kids enough.

I had so much time to be with my girls, I gave up work to be with them and then as they grew worked part time from home for my husbands business. I accept that I am exceptionally lucky and many people aren’t fortunate to be able to have that time.

When the younger two were very ill and in and out of hospital during they younger years I had a charity send someone to my house once a week to care for them so that I could give the entire afternoon to my eldest daughter  to ensure she didn’t miss out on activities with me. My house was always full of glitter, glue, paint, chalks, you name it we had it ~ although most fun was had from huge cardboard boxes and pans with wooden spoons!

31. Never taking a big risk (especially in love).

Taking a risk is part of life ~ I endorse risk taking and taking that leap.

It’s mostly worked to my benefit and even if it doesn’t, at least you know you tried.

32. Not taking the time to develop contacts and network.

Nope, don’t believe in networking ~ it’s not got a place in my lifestyle. I can see how it is necessary in certain businesses but I really can’t be fussed with arse licking and small talk to get into the inner circle of business groups or whatever.

Be self confident, bold, keep your head up and go for it ~ if you work hard, are approachable and friendly and believe in yourself these people should come to you and not the other way round.

33. Worrying too much.

Ha ha ha ha *snorts alarmingly* I am such the worry wart ~ I worry about everything, even things that may never happen. I have scenarios and emergency contingencies planned and worry if it’s strong enough. I think being a worrier is usually part of a persons make~up and so tough to address.

Some folk couldn’t care less and I really admire that attitude (although having a little concern is always healthy I feel). I try to be aware of my tendency to worry but it’s easier said than done for a person who worries.

34. Getting caught up in needless drama.

Ugh, drama queens, seriously ~ jog on. Not got the time or the patience for people who are so self indulgent and all about themselves.

Age brings new skills to avoid or shut these people down. I think many caring people get caught up and drained by these people. Drama I can do without, although sometimes it finds me and that’s damn annoying!

35. Not spending enough time with loved ones.

I make time to spend with all those I love.

I hand on heart said everything that I needed to say to my mum before she passed. We had many long and frank conversations, no topic was taboo.

I am close to my sister but rarely see her as she lives abroad, however we keep in touch and are close.

I haven’t seen my brother for four years sadly, we never seem to be able to coordinate being in the same place at the same time ~ but keep in touch via phone text messages with the odd long phone call.

Dad is a funny one ~ always busy but thats a good thing, I want him to live life to the full and be active for as long as he can ~ we keep in touch with weekly phone calls and either he comes to me or we go over for a day visit (longest we can leave the dogs) to see him. Same with Daves family.

As for my girls and Dave ~ we always make time for each other and are exceptionally close. I’m lucky I guess.

36. Never performing in front of others.

Uh Oh Never In A Million Years ~ I can’t stand up in front of others without going beetroot read, feeling like I’m going to pass out of vomit and my voice breaking. When I had to read in school I spoke so quickly no one could understand me as my philosophy was speak fast finish as soon as possible and it will all be over.

Definitely NOT one for me!

37. Not being grateful sooner.

Again I believe this comes with age, how many teenagers are grateful when ravaged by hormones and the changes that involves. My girls are grateful now in life because they have unfortunately had it throw curve balls at them from a young age so whatever they can do is appreciated.

We all have different reasons to be grateful, what one person appreciates another wont. I was a right bellend as a teenager, I expected to have what I wanted when I wanted it and was always in too much of a hurry, wanting everything yesterday. Over the years my ability to be grateful and see what I should have gratitude for is much clearer.

So that’s the list of 37 things gone through ~ do any of these resonate with you? What are your regrets ~ do you have them? I suppose aside from the above I am fortunate to not have many regrets in my life. I have been exceptionally lucky, although my life has not been perfect and loss, grief and illness have been too present, I think it is precisely these things that make me grasp the opportunities life offers and make the most of them in whatever way I can at the time.

I, hand on heart, cannot think of any other regrets I may have ~ mind you it could be the brain fog and lack of cognitive function that are keeping them shrouded from my memory banks.

I prefer to look at life with the positives not negatives, the past is past, the future is unknown, so make the most of the moment. Life has taught me that no matter what we think, in reality we have no control of when our life will end.

So live life to the fullest while you can, don’t look back with regret and celebrate what you have.

In the words of the great Frank Sinatra I leave you with this;

And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill my share of losing
And now, as tears subside
I find it all so amusing

To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it my way

For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Yes, it was my way

x~X~x

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